AVCA: Who or what has made you want to pursue coaching?
Kristen Schuster: I've always loved sports and it has made me who I am today. I have had good coaches and bad coaches and have learned a lot from many styles of coaching. I've always just wanted to pass on my passion for competition and to allow others to feel that they can achieve more than they've ever thought possible. I've been teaching and coaching for many years and knew all along that it was coaching was my true passion. Coaching is teaching but in a competitive atmosphere. There isn't any better feeling than to help other accomplish their goals.
AVCA: Who or what has been your biggest coaching influence?
KS: My biggest influence was a coach who I actually had a very bad experience with. I almost quit my junior season because playing volleyball was such a miserable experience and yet I had this desire to keep getting better and loved to compete. I worked hard to hold the team together and filter out the negativity. I learned a lot about volleyball from her and I learned how I never wanted to treat other people of make them feel. From that experience mostly I've learned how to be a very intense coach, demanding and yet keep it positive and respectful.
AVCA: Please list your past and present coaching/playing experiences:
I played high school volleyball in a small town in Wisconsin - Florence for four years 1981-1984. After that I was in the Air Force for five years and competed/coached our base team in Zaragoza, Spain and Edwards AFG, California 1987-1992. I tried out for the Air Force team and was cut. After the Air Force I was a walk on at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, MI where I played for four years 1992-1995. I also coached JV Volleyball at Houghton High School while playing those four years in college. After graduating, I coached the varsity volleyball team in Baraga Michigan 1996 and then started the first ever program at Hancock High School in 1997 where I coached until 2012. During that time I spent one year as the first ever coach of the program here at Finlandia University in 1999 (while teaching and coaching at Houghton/Hancock High School) I continued to play in city leagues or adult tournaments for all of those years. This past year 2013, marks the start of a new career for me as the full time volleyball coach at Finlandia University.
AVCA: What are you most looking forward to at the 2012 AVCA Annual Convention?
KS: I am so looking forward to meeting other coaches and learning from their experiences. It is exciting having coaching as my only focus and I'm ready to dive in and learn as much as possible about the game from strategies to different techniques and styles. I have never attended a National Championship Match and it will so sweet to see the top volleyball players/coaches compete in that!
I will also get a chance to catch up with many old friends from around the country.